Can’t Flush This! – Essential Records from the Late 80s & Early 90s
Skid Row – Slave to the Grind (1991)
From the first time I heard “Youth Gone Wild” in the spring of 1989 I knew that Skid Row was going to be huge. Their self-titled debut, released early that year, would ultimately chart at number 6 on Billboard in the States and go on to move over five million units worldwide. It was one of the better/later entrants into that already-flourishing era of big-hair heavy metal that dominated the mid-to-late eighties. …and it did so with more airplay on MTV than most AOR radio stations. Skid Row’s debut success was further ensured by a strong single entitled “18 and Life.” The video for that track is quite possibly the coolest video MTV ever aired. Vince Neil later whined, as he is often wont to do, about how MTV rejected Mötley Crüe’s video for “You’re All I Need” even though the subject-matter was similar and Skid Row’s video featured graphic firearm violence (which is inarguably very Metal™.)
Clockwise from top-left: Slave to the Grind album cover, bassist Rachel Bolan with his trademark nose-to-ear chain, and the CD you’d better already own or get right now.
While Skid Row’s eponymous debut would go on to be their most successful album, with its pretty ballad “I Remember You,” its successor would prove to be their magnum opus. Much ballsier than the 1989 album, Slave to the Grind clocks in at just under 50 minutes of metallic attitude and features three ballads…all of which stomp the guts out of the deeply touching love story of “I Remember You” on a Valentine’s Day, in public, and in broad daylight. Sebastian Bach (who will forever be remembered for infamously firing a thrown bottle back at a “fan,” missing, and busting a girl’s face open) turned in one holy hell of a vocal performance on this outing. Every one of those not-as-pretty ballads feature some hair-raising scream-singing that should make nearly every power metal vocalist seethe with jealousy and possibly rethink their careers. (Eric Adams excluded.)
Skid Row – Quicksand Jesus (Ed note: Thanks for disabling embedding Sony Music Entertainment!)
Though Bach isn’t the primary lyricist on either album, some of the lyrics may still come off as a little meat-headed to some. When Rolling Stone originally reviewed Slave to the Grind they actually took one star away for the track “Get the Fuck Out,” (which was replaced on the “clean” ie: Walmart version with “Beggars Day,”) In my opinion, there’s quite a bit of entertaining wordplay going on alongside the groupie-slamming of a typical cock-rock song. Not to worry because it all works very well for the material, its intended audience, and the music in general. (The lyrics are certainly far more intelligent than the stupidity that was found on N.W.A.’s Efil4zaggin released that same year…you can tell those Ice Cubeless sucka MCs wrote all those lyrics themselves.) Skid Row is not Queensrÿche and nobody needs any deep thinking whilst listening to crushing attitude-drenched anthems like “Riot Act” and the superb title track. There is no filler on this album at all. Some tracks may stand out more than others (“Creepshow” doesn’t quite rise to the same level as much of the rest) but they are all at least great. The album as a whole should be listened to in its entirety…preferably with the volume jacked up as much as your neighbors will tolerate.
Slave to the Grind is the first album I ever bought originally and only on CD so I can’t compare it to the vinyl record. At over twenty minutes per side, I believe the CD would be the better addition to your music collection…no inner groove distortion on Compact Discs like most LPs with overly-long sides. Any CD pressing should do. To my knowledge this album has blessedly never been brickwall-remastered for all of you current-gen ADD-dummies who prefer crushed dynamics so you can get an even listening-experience from your feckin’ laptop speakers. Get your buried-drum white noise-mixed fix elsewhere because Slave to the Grind was mixed/mastered hot enough. If you can’t turn it up loud enough on your chosen equipment or device then you’re doing it wrong.
This album should be in EVERY professing metalhead’s library regardless of your preferred sub-genre. It’s now over twenty years old and it still destroys any and all “mainstream” metal being released today. It’s also far more convincingly “heavy” than most of the hundreds of thousands of all original death and core bands today (who seem to feature the exact same Cookie Monster vocalist.)
There will be no flushes for Slave to the Grind. I believe in my heart-of-hearts that this is also the will of our beloved and ever-elusive poster RiotAct666. (There’s a reason why The Master is know as Riot Act.) This album will now take its rightful place in the Unflushable Canon of JAG. It is above reproach and anyone who bears false witness against its greatness will be flushed down that most rancid piss-pot of the underworld a/k/a the Toilet Ov Hell.
PS: EVACUATE MY YARD. -JAG